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LAW OF PHYSICAL LIFE.* Siznecit. 2), €. Edward harves.
To the subject of Human Physiology, its elucidation, its importance and practical usefulness, Mr. Mann has devoted the larger portion of his last report, and has given therein a most interesting discussion upon the law of physical life. It is written with the accuracy and has the clear demonstration of science, and exhibits the beautiful fervor of eloquence and poetry, that so distinctly characterize the productions of this faithful and earnest philanthropist.
His object is to show . 1. the structure of our animal frame and of its organs, their wants, their uses and relations to the external world ; 2. our responsibility concerning them; and, 3. that our health and comfort, our fulness and power of life depend upon our faithful discharge of that responsibility, and our fulfilment of the conditions of our earthly existence, and that from our unfaithfulness, in this regard for the laws of our being, come our pains, our ailments, and our early death.
This is a field of useful research ever present to every individual of the human race. It may be productive beyond measure of good, or it may yield only pain and sorrow.
Yet few have thought it worth their attention to enter upon and examine it; still fewer have cared to cultivate it, so that it may bring forth the full fruits of health and life.
* Sixth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board of Education. By HORACE Mann, (Notice continued from page 381 of the last vol e.) VOL. XXXV. - 3D S. VOL. XVII. NO. 1.
There is a common notion, that life is a mystery ; that health is the gift of nature; that diseases are God's chastenings, and death comes at its own appointed time, and therefore we have nothing to do in the matter; that study into these things is vain endeavor to find out the unsearchable; and all attempts to increase our strength or protract our life will be but an ineffectual struggle against the Almighty. Such, we believe, is not the lot of man here below. Far different is our condition, far wider is our duty in respect to the maintenance of our physical being on earth. We are not to be the mere passive recipients of the means of life, nor careless revellers in the midst of them. Still less are we to scorn and neglect them and bury them in the ground. For all the things of the world are created by God in infinite wisdom, and all its circumstances are arranged in infinite love. Every one of the numberless blessings granted to us has an especial design ; and to the enjoyment of each there is affixed a condition for us to fulfil. Thereupon hangs a duty of knowledge and obedience; and a responsibility to ourselves and to God for all the consequences of neglect. Hence comes the necessity of our studying the laws of life and of health, the conditions of our present existence, and the means put into our hands for their fulfilment.
All men seem to have a general notion of the means by which life is sustained; yet few are well acquainted with their minute and daily administration. Every one is aware of the need of food, clothing, and air: but how these shall be prepared and taken, in what manner and in what measure, this is the question, on which men differ, both in their theory and in their practice; and hence come the very different results of health and strength in various persons.
“ The earth was given us by a generous Providence for our habitation. Our organs and their functions, and the necessities of our powers are perfectly fitted to external nature. Between the wants of the animal body and the elements there is a beautiful harmony. For every need of our organs or our life God has created an abundant supply. Some of these things are supplied to us all ready for our use, as the air for the lungs and respiration, the light for the eye, the water for drink : other things are given to us in the raw material unfit for use. But then we have intellect given us to perceive the powers and worth of these, and their convertibility into such shapes or combinations as our bodies may require." - p. 90.